New Bacteria Species that Causes Lyme Disease Discovered
By Kelly Young
Edited by Jaye Elizabeth Hefner, MD
Scientists report the discovery of a new species of bacteria (Borrelia mayonii) in the upper Midwest of the U.S. that causes a unique presentation of Lyme disease. Their findings appear in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Researchers screened over 100,000 clinical samples for the presence of B. burgdorferi bacteria, which causes Lyme disease. Of these, six were flagged as a unique species, which they called B. mayonii. Roughly 20 ticks also tested positive for this bacterium.
The researchers examined medical records and found that patients infected with B. mayonii experienced nausea, vomiting, diffuse macular rashes, and elevated levels of bacteria in the blood, in addition to symptoms typically associated with B. burgdorferi infection (e.g., headache, neck pain). Three patients also experienced neurologic symptoms, including confused speech, profound somnolence, and visual difficulties. All lived in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or North Dakota.
Commentators conclude: "Interestingly, candidatus B. mayonii was only detected in specimens obtained during 2012–14, although the sample collection dates back to 2003. This suggests that candidatus B. mayonii is a newly-emerged genospecies."
The CDC says that patients infected with B. mayonii should test positive for Lyme disease with current tests.
Lancet Infectious Diseases article (Free abstract)
Lancet Infectious Diseases comment (Subscription required)
Background: NEJM Journal Watch Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine coverage of antibiotic treatment for early Lyme disease (Your NEJM Journal Watch registration required)